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Neurodevelopmental profiles of preschool-age children in Flint, Michigan: a latent profile analysis



Children in Flint, Michigan, have experienced myriad sociodemographic adversities exacerbated by the Flint water crisis. To help inform child-focused prevention and intervention efforts, we aimed to describe patterns of neurodevelopmental outcomes among preschoolers who experienced the Flint water crisis before age 2 years.


Participants were 170 preschoolers who completed a comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessment battery, including directly administered measures of cognitive and executive functioning and maternal-report of adaptive skills and behavioral problems. We used latent profile analysis to derive subgroups. Multivariate multinomial logistic regression was conducted to examine the predictors of profile memberships, including child sex and maternal/family-level factors selected from an array of measured exposures using least absolute shrinkage and selection operator regression.


Three latent profiles were identified: Profile 1-relative weakness in all domains (50%); Profile 2-normative functioning in all domains (34.1%); and Profile 3-relative strengths in executive function and behavior (15.9%). Profile 1 showed lower scores across cognitive and behavioral domains. Profile 2 demonstrated abilities within the normal range across domains. Profile 3 showed relative strength in executive functioning with few behavior problems, despite lower cognitive performance. Children across all profiles showed adaptive behavior in the adequate range. Child sex and maternal IQ were significant predictors of profile membership.


Children in Flint demonstrated diverse patterns of development in the face of sociodemographic and environmental adversities. Comprehensive screening and neurodevelopmental profiling of children in this at-risk population are needed to identify areas of needs and inform appropriate service delivery.

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